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Honor 20 Smartphone Review

The Honor 20 is a mid-range smartphone with an impressive line-up of cameras and decent specs but how does it perform in real life?


|  Honor 20 in Camera Phones
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Honor 20
 

 

Quick Verdict

For the price, the Honor 20 is a very impressive smartphone with a big screen, good camera and modern design. The 4cm macro mode is excellent for a smartphone and even though greens/reds can be oversaturated, generally, colour reproduction in images is excellent. There are some clipping issues when using portrait mode and the 2x zoom (and beyond) isn't great but for £400, you're getting a decent camera, that can capture 48MP images, in something that was originally designed to make phone calls which is still a pretty cool thing. The on-going Huawei problems that are still taking up newspaper columns may be a concern but Honor have promised they will continue to support their customers but currently, we don't know if Huawei/Honor smartphones will continue to receive updates. However, this aside, if you're not an Apple/Samsung fanboy and want to save yourself a bit of cash, the Honor 20 series of smartphones should go on your 'smartphones to consider' list. 

+ Pros

  • All-screen display 
  • Good image quality  
  • Excellent price  
  • Great specs (for the price)

- Cons

  • Huawei issues can't be ignored 
  • 2x zoom and up is poor
  • Still room for improvement with low light images
  • 48MP images only slightly better than the 12MP images

 

The Honor 20 smartphone is the middle-man sitting between the premium Honor 20 Pro and less expensive Honor 20 Lite. Even though it's sitting in between the two other smartphones in the Honor 20 range, it actually has more in common with the Pro version so it'll be interesting to see how well it can capture images; even more so when you consider the rather reasonable £399 asking price (6GB + 128GB) which is £150 cheaper than the Pro version (£549). 

Before we get onto the review, we've got to mention the elephant in the room which is the USA vs Huawei debate/issue... whatever you want to call it as Honor are a Huawei sub-brand and even though Honor is trying to reassure customers that Honor smartphones will continue to receive security patches and Android updates, it's still going to be a worry for some. 


As we're still not sure how this political issue will end, we thought it was only right it was mentioned but for the moment, it looks like things might be on the up for the smartphone manufacturer who has now overtaken Apple in the smartphone rankings. 

One thing we can say for sure is that the Honor 20, on paper, looks to be a cracking smartphone at a great price but does this equate in real life situations? Let's find out...

 

Honor 20 Features

Honor 20
 

With a brand that has a real focus on photography, it's no surprise that we find a quad camera system built into the Honor 20 with a 48MP f/1.8 main camera, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle, 2MP f/2.4 macro lens, which can focus within 4cm of your subject and a 2MP f/2.4 depth assist sensor. The selfie camera is 32MP and is built into the screen (there's a very small hole) so there's no notch taking up valuable screen space which measures 6.26-inch, the same as the Honor 20 Pro. 

The camera app is full of cool features such as portrait mode, night mode etc. and the mid-range smartphone also shoots 4K video. 

Under the shiny exterior, it's similar to the older Huawei P30 Pro but it doesn't have a fancy in-screen fingerprint sensor, instead, this is built into the power button on the side of the smartphone. Talking of power, a 3750mAh battery can be found in the Honor 20 along with a Kirin 980 processor.

Another cool feature, which we mention quite a lot with Honor/Huawei smartphones, are the colour options that are usually available. The Sapphire Blue (we have on test) is really eye-catching and stands out against the all too common black smartphones on the market. 

Key Features

  • 48mp f/1.8 main camera
  • 16mp f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle
  • 2mp f/2.4 macro, 4cm macro focus
  • 2mp f/2.4 depth assist
  • 32mp selfie camera, in-screen
  • Super Night Mode
  • 6.26inch screen
  • Kirin 980 Processor
  • Fingerprint sensor and NFC
  • 3750mAh battery

 

Honor 20 Handling

Honor 20
 

The Honor 20 might be a mid-range smartphone but it certainly doesn't look 'less expensive'. It has a metal frame, glass front/rear and an ultra-modern edge-to-edge display with a cut-out selfie camera in the top left corner which means more screen for your hard-earned cash. Rounded edges make the Honor 20 comfortable to hold and it doesn't feel overly big either. The power/fingerprint sensor button is slightly recessed, too, which adds a little bit extra grip when you're holding the device with one hand. Having said that, we still recommend using two hands when capturing photos to keep shake to a minimum and it will also mean it's less likely to slip out of your hands. 

"The Honor 20 might be a mid-range smartphone but it certainly doesn't look less expensive."

Honor 20
 

Talking of slipping and sliding, as the back is constructed from glass, it can slide off surfaces quite easily so do be careful and as modern smartphones are fragile things, it's always worth popping a case on it. However, if you do, may we suggest a clear one as it would be a shame to cover up the expensive-looking finish the Honor 20 has. The sapphire blue we have on test is particularly attractive, reflecting light beautifully. The problem with such lovely finishes, though, is fingerprints, and we know there's not much you can do about them but still, it makes the smartphone look messy. 

You might think the side fingerprint sensor would take a while to get used to, especially as most other smartphones have these sensors on the back but actually, it feels rather normal as your fingers naturally rest on the side when you're holding the smartphone anyway. Above the power button/fingerprint sensor is the volume control and to the bottom is a USB-C port and speaker. There's no headphone jack, annoyingly, although a USB Type-C to headphone socket adapter is provided in the box. 

The Honor 20's display is really great, measuring 6.26-inches and offering a 1080x2340 resolution. Plus, the edge-to-edge design is great for viewing photos as images really do fill the whole front of the device. 

Honor 20

 

The cutout, dewdrop, top-notch debate will continue to be discussed but the more cutout/punch hole front cameras we see, the more we tend to like them - especially when paired with hardly-there bezels. 

As for screen brightness and viewability, there's nothing majorly wrong with it. Is it as bright as some of the premium smartphones? Probably not but colours are balanced well and images are sharp. 

The camera set-up sounds impressive with a 48MP f/1.8 main camera, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle, 2MP f/2.4 macro lens, which can focus within 4cm of your subject and a 2MP f/2.4 depth assist sensor. You may have noticed that a telephoto lens is missing which makes the mid-range price point more noticeable as the more expensive Pro version does have a telephoto lens and without it, zoom is a bit poor - something we'll cover in the next section. The selfie camera is 32MP and, as mentioned, is built into the screen. 

 

Honor 20
 

As mentioned, the main camera is a 48MP shooter which uses Quad-Bayer Array technology to improve resolution and light sensitivity - something we're seeing in more of Huawei/Honor's less expensive smartphones as at one time, it was reserved for more premium devices such as the Mate 20 Pro

The technology is particularly useful in low light and at night as it uses 2x2 adjacent pixels in the same colour, increasing light sensitivity and keeping noise to a minimum and raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to 12 effective megapixels. 

AI-powered technology always features in Honor smartphones and it recognises scenes, adjusting settings to give you optimal results. It's also used when shooting with the 'Ultra Clarity' mode which, when selected (it's an option in the setting's menu) allows the camera to take several 48MP pictures at once which the best details are collected from and are combined to make 1 48MP photo. A clever algorithm then asses the overall look of the photo, adjusting and optimising results. 

 

Honor 20

 

The camera app is the same as what you see on other Honor/Huawei smartphones, is easy to use and has various modes built-in. These include a panorama mode, night mode, pro mode and a portrait mode where you can adjust skin softness and background bokeh. 
 

Battery life - The battery is rated at 3750mAh which is fine and there are several power saving modes available to help you conserve energy. There's also a fast charger supplied so you can go from 0 to around 50% battery in half an hour or so. 

Antutu and Geekbench scores are as follows: 279033 (Antutu) and 3213 (single-core Geekbench), 9691 (multi-core Geekbench). Impressive for such a well priced smartphone.

 


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